Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Polymer Solar Cells With Higher Efficiency Levels Created

Date:
December 1, 2008
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
Currently solar cells are difficult to handle, expensive to purchase and complicated to install. The hope is that consumers will one day be able to buy solar cells from their local hardware store and simply hang them like posters on a wall. A recent study has shown that the dream is one step closer to reality.

UCLA solar polymer films and the corresponding device characteristics made from these films. The films are actually semitransparent.
Credit: Image courtesy of UCLA

Currently, solar cells are difficult to handle, expensive to purchase and complicated to install. The hope is that consumers will one day be able to buy solar cells from their local hardware store and simply hang them like posters on a wall.

A new study byresearchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has shown that the dream is one step closer to reality. Reporting in the Nov. 26 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, and colleagues describe the design and synthesis of a new polymer, or plastic, for use in solar cellsthat hassignificantly greater sunlight absorption and conversioncapabilities thanprevious polymers.

The researchteamfound that substituting a silicon atom for carbon atom in the backbone of the polymer markedly improvedthe material'sphotovoltaic properties. This silole-containing polymer can also be crystalline, giving it great potential as an ingredient for high-efficiency solar cells.

"With the reality of today's energy crisis, a new-game changing technology is required to make solar cells more popular," Yang said. "We hope that our newly synthesized polymer can eventually be used on solar cells far beyond their current rooftop applications. Imagine a house or car covered and powered by flexible solar films. Our dream is to see solar cells used everywhere."

Polymers are lightweight, low-cost plastics used in packaging materials and inexpensive products like insulators, pipes, household products and toys. Polymer solar cells utilize organic compounds to produce electricity from sunlight. Theyare much cheaper to produce than traditional silicon-based solar cells and are also environmentally friendly.

But while polymersolar cells have been around for several years, their efficiency has, until recently, been low. The new polymer created by Yang's team reached 5.1 percentefficiency in the published study but has in a few months improved to 5.6 percentin the lab. Yang and his team have proven that the photovoltaic material they use on their solar cells is one of the most efficient based on a single-layer, low-band-gap polymer.

At a lower band gap, the polymer solar cell can better utilize the solar spectrum, thereby absorbing more sunlight. At a higher band gap, light is not easily absorbed and can be wasted.

"Previously, the synthesizing process for the polymer was very complicated. We've been able to simplify the process and make it much easier to mass produce," said Jianhui Hou, UCLA postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the study. "Though this is a milestone achievement, we will continue to work on improving the materials. Ideally we'd like to push the performance of the solar cell to higher than 10 percentefficiency. We know the potential is there."

"We hope that solar cells will one day be as thin as paper and can be attached to the surface of your choice," added co-author Hsiang-Yu Chen, a UCLA graduate student in engineering. "We'll also be able to create different colors to match different applications."

The study was funded by Solarmer Energy Inc. anda UC Discovery Grant. Solarmer Energy Inc. has recently licensed the technology from UCLA for commercialization.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Polymer Solar Cells With Higher Efficiency Levels Created." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126133435.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2008, December 1). Polymer Solar Cells With Higher Efficiency Levels Created. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126133435.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Polymer Solar Cells With Higher Efficiency Levels Created." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126133435.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Patents Contact Lens Cameras; Internet Is Wary

Google Patents Contact Lens Cameras; Internet Is Wary

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) Google has filed for a patent to develop contact lenses capable of taking photos. The company describes possible benefits to blind people. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) A Dutch highway has become the first lit by glow-in-the-dark paint — a project aimed at reducing street light use. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Buys Drone Maker, Hopes to Connect Rural World

Google Buys Drone Maker, Hopes to Connect Rural World

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Formerly courted by Facebook, Titan Aerospace will become a part of Google's quest to blanket the world in Internet connectivity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins